Mexico, a country steeped rich in tradition, is bursting with activity in February. Many national holidays take place during this month, honoring both the Mexican constitution and the country's flag. Carnaval, in particular, celebrates art, music, and tequila, of course. Don't forget, Valentine's Day lands in February too, a favorite holiday in Mexican culture. During this month, you can watch a tennis match at the Mexican Open, taste 100 Mexican wines (don't overdo it), or view and buy contemporary art at Zona Maco in Mexico City. Then, when you're all partied out, witness the Monarch butterfly migration at one of Mexico's butterfly reserves, or book your spot on a day boat for a whale-watching excursion.
Lovers of film, music, food, tequila, and surfing should not miss Festival Sayulita in the coastal surfing enclave of Sayulita, Mexico. During this bohemian film festival, various venues throughout town host viewings of the international movies, while gatherers enjoy beachside screenings in addition to yoga, a fun run, and live music. Crawl the town's restaurant scene on the bank on Riviera Nayarit, while enjoying tequila and spirit tastings, food pairings, and master-chef presentations. During the day, take part in one of the region's many outdoor activities like surfing, paddleboarding, and mountain biking.
What's considered Groundhog Day in the United States (February 2) is Día de la Candelaría in Mexico. This religious holiday marks the end of the Christmas season and falls exactly 40 days after Christmas. The Catholic religion observes this "Feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin” by dressing up figures of baby Jesus and taking them to the church to be blessed. Mexican locales also use this day to take down their Christmas decorations and welcome in spring. Big parties, complete with tamales, are hosted by the town's person who found the baby figurine in the Rosca de Reyes (sweet bread) on Three King's Day in January.
Día de la Constitución
Originally celebrated on February 5, Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day) is now observed in Mexico on the first Monday of February. This national holiday commemorates the Mexican constitution of 1917 put in place by Venustiano Carranza following the Mexican Revolution. This constitution instituted the complete separation of church and state, the division of large haciendas into ejidos (community-held land), and the right of workers to organize, strike, and receive compensation for workplace accidents. On this day, banks, schools, and public businesses are closed and parades and celebrations take place throughout the country.
Día del Amor y la Amistad (Valentine's Day)
In Mexico, Día del Amor y la Amistad officially means "the day of love and friendship" and is used to celebrate not only your loved one, but also your family and friends. On this day, friends and lovers exchange cards, balloons, gifts, and flowers. Similar to the United States, people celebrate their relationship with a dinner date or a romantic vacation and many restaurants and hotels offer special deals. Unlike other Western cultures, however, Mexicans have no problem publicly displaying their affection. Walk the streets of any Mexican City and you're bound to see people making out on the sidewalks.
On February 24, civic ceremonies take place throughout the country to honor the Mexican tri-colored flag. The current flag of Mexico was adopted in 1968 and is a version of the one put forth by Agustín de Iturbide in 1821. Flag Day (or Día de la Bandera) celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain, freedom of religion, and union of all Mexican people. While this is not a recognized national holiday and most people still go to work, expect to see city streets lined with Mexican flags and people dressed to follow suit.
Carnaval, a week of revelry leading up to Ash Wednesday, ushers in the soberer period of Lent. This event typically takes place in February, but some years, it lands in March, depending on the date of Easter. Brazil is best known for its elaborate Carnaval celebrations, but you don't have to venture that far, as Mexican cities celebrate with great fanfare, as well. Mexico's port cities celebrate this Mardi Gras-like holiday by hosting parades with elaborate costumes and floats, music, and dancing in the streets. People dress in costume, throw cascarones (eggshells filled with confetti), and party all day and well into the night. Many towns close streets for vendors to sell food, drink, and local art. Some cities even celebrate with amusement park rides and masquerade balls.
Festival of 100 Mexican Wines
The Festival of 100 Mexican Wines takes place at La Redonda Vineyards in Ezequiel Montes, Querétaro, about three hours from Mexico City. This most important Mexican wine festival celebrates the country's wine industry, with the main objective of promoting wine culture and promoting the 50 wineries in attendance. A wide selection of winemakers pour tastings paired with cheese and other gourmet treats for attendees. Various hotels in Queretaro offer special rates and packages during this weekend and you can book a tour, which usually includes transportation, festival entry, a souvenir glass, and a coordinator.
San Pancho Music Festival
Founded in 2001, San Pancho Music Festival began as a small gathering of local musicians. By 2006, the lineup included 116 countrywide artists, as well as performers from the United States and Latin America. During the festival's three days of music at the end of February, concerts take place on two stages at the Plaza del Sol in San Francisco, Nayarit, starting at 5 p.m. each day. Admission is free and concert-goers are advised to bring their own blankets and chairs. Food, drink, and beer is available for sale at the site and lodging options are provided 3 miles away in Sayulita, but they book up fast during the week of the festival.
The San Pancho Music Festival is canceled for 2021, but festival organizers hope to hold it again in 2022. Please check the festival's website for the most up-to-date information.
The Mexican Open tennis tournament, held annually in February, is the largest event of its kind in Latin America, attracting international tennis champions. Matches are held on outdoor hard courts at the Hotel Princess Mundo Imperial in Acapulco's Zona Diamante. Thousands of spectators gather to watch their favorite athletes compete for the championship prize money. Many travelers plan their vacation to this popular destination resort in conjunction with the tournament to enjoy beachside lounging and watersports like paddleboarding and surfing. Individual tickets and six-day passes are available to purchase.
For 2021, the Mexican Open has been postponed until March 15 to 20 instead of the regularly scheduled February 22 to 27. Please check with event organizers for the most up-to-date information.
Mexico City's biggest contemporary art fair, Zona Maco, takes place at the Centro Citibanamex, Hall D. This festival celebrates the artistic heritage of the country by featuring international guests, displaying specialized publications and editorials, and hosting a vast program of parallel activities in conjunction with some of the most outstanding galleries and museums in the country. General admission is a small fixed cost for adults and free for children under 12. Many hotels and restaurants offer deals during the fair and local city celebrations last well into the night.
Zona Maco is postponed until February 2022. Please check with event organizers for the most up-to-date information.